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High School vs. College: A Comparison of What to Expect

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Presentation on theme: "High School vs. College: A Comparison of What to Expect"— Presentation transcript:

1 High School vs. College: A Comparison of What to Expect
Part IV: Grades and Testing Module 1 Lesson 4 All information in this lecture is adapted from the website of Southern Methodist University’s Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center. Unless otherwise specified, all clip art and images in this document are used with permission from Microsoft in accordance with their End User License Agreement.

2 Grades

3 Grades are given for most, if not all, assigned work.
High School College Grades are given for most, if not all, assigned work. Professors may assign work and expect it to be completed but never collect or grade it. Just because a professor does not collect or grade an assignment does not mean that the student does not need to complete it. The information may appear on a test, or it may be important to understand as background information for later lectures.

4 High School College Homework, quizzes, projects, and extra credit often raise a student’s overall grade when test grades are low because many assignments are averaged into the final grade. Test grades usually carry a great amount of weight in the final grade. Homework may be ungraded and extra credit is rarely available. Tests or papers are often the only grades students get in a class. In high school, grades on individual assignments are less important because there are generally a large number of assignments factored into the final grade. In college, there may be only a few grades, so each individual grade carries a lot more weight.

5 Professors expect students to keep up with their own grades.
High School College Teachers inform students when they are doing poorly and often provide opportunities to catch up. Professors expect students to keep up with their own grades. College professors will not spontaneously approach students and say “Hey, I noticed you’re doing poorly; here’s how you can improve your grade.” Professors expect you to know how you are doing in class at any given time and to approach them if you need assistance.

6 High School College Effort often counts, and students who put forth good effort may get a higher grade even if their performance does not meet the teacher’s standards. Putting forth good effort is important in regard to the professor’s willingness to help a student achieve a better grade, but effort will not substitute for performance in the grading process. In college, you must meet the professor’s standards in order to earn a passing grade. If you do not learn the information or complete the work, it does not matter how hard you tried. The only way that effort affects college grades is if a professor sees how hard you are working and is willing to help you learn the information or connect you with additional resources. In this way a lack of effort can hurt you because professors rarely go the extra mile for students who do not seem to be putting forth their best effort. Furthermore, the students who put forth strong effort are – in most cases – going to have a much better chance of understanding the material and therefore meeting the professor’s standards.

7 The university will not inform parents of grades.
High School College Report cards and progress reports are sent home to inform parents or guardians of a student’s grades. The university will not inform parents of grades. This is often a contentious point between college students and their parents. Parents want to be kept in the loop, and those who are paying for college often feel that they have the right to access their student’s grades. This is something that you need to work out with your parents before you go to college. You need to know their expectations for being informed about your grades and they need to know about your expectations about privacy. It is also a really good idea to keep your parents informed throughout the semester, because most students who do poorly in a class report that it is much more difficult to tell their parents about their grades if they wait until the end of the semester to drop the bomb.

8 Students can be put on academic probation for poor grades.
High School College Teachers will usually try to help students in many ways to keep their grades up. Students with poor grades must seek help from the professor and other resources. Students can be put on academic probation for poor grades. In high school, the teacher is generally the first (and sometimes the only) resource students seek out if they are having difficulty in a class. In college, students should seek help from many other resources in addition to the professor. Most colleges have tutoring centers, and many departments offer additional resources to help students. A class may have a graduate assistant or teacher’s assistant, and classmates are often a valuable resource. In high school, regardless of how bad a student’s grades are, they will continue to attend school. In college, students who do not maintain a certain grade point average are placed on academic probation or suspension. Keeping a minimum GPA is essential to continuing to attend school.

9 High School College Students can graduate as long as they have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher. Students can graduate only if their grade point average meets the departmental standard (usually a 2.0 or C). Again, the grade standards are lower for graduating from high school than for graduating from college. Simply passing your courses is not usually enough – for courses in your major, many schools require a grade of C for that class to fulfill your requirements.

10 Testing

11 Tests are usually frequent and cover small amounts of material.
High School College Tests are usually frequent and cover small amounts of material. Tests are generally infrequent and cover large amounts of material. A course might only have 2 or 3 tests in a semester. Tests may also be cumulative, meaning that students are asked about material from the entire semester (even if it has already been addressed on an earlier test). Having less frequent tests that cover more material can be particularly challenging for students with disabilities. To improve their performance, students need to use the “spaced practice” approach to studying mentioned earlier. Attempting to cram for tests with a great deal of information on them is not likely to be effective. Cumulative tests also benefit from spaced practice because students are more likely to retain the information for longer. Students should also be aware that they may need to review information from the entire semester for every test in addition to learning new material.

12 High School College Teachers tell students when a test is coming up and remind them frequently. Professors put test dates on the syllabus and may never mention it again until the day of the test. This was mentioned earlier in talking about the differences between high school and college instructors. As a reminder, the syllabus is a student’s contract with the professor, and the excuse “I didn’t know that we had a test” is not going to fly.

13 High School College Teachers almost always tell students what they need to study for the test and often conduct review sessions to point out the most important material. Professors may or may not give students a study guide and will probably not tell them exactly what to study. If a professor offers a review opportunity, students are expected to come prepared with questions. In college, it is usually up to the student to determine which information the professor thinks is important enough to be asked on the test. College professors generally do not specifically mention which material will be on the test. Thus, paying attention to the professor’s cues in lecture about what information is important is essential to knowing what to study. Students who do not pay attention to these cues are often the ones who walk away from a test saying “I studied all the wrong things.” In high school, review sessions often consist of the teacher telling the students what questions to expect and how to answer them. In college, review sessions usually consist of the professor answering questions that the students bring and clarifying information that the students indicate they do not understand.

14 High School College Teachers often rearrange test dates to avoid conflicts with school events or tests in other classes. Professors usually schedule tests and assignments without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities and are unlikely to reschedule a test date due to a student conflict. In most cases, it will not matter to a professor what other events or tests are occurring on the same day as their test. Many professors follow a similar schedule, so it is common for college students to have no tests for several weeks, and then a test in 3 or 4 classes all within one or two days. Because you have had the syllabus since the beginning of the semester, students generally know when tests are coming up in each class and should be able to plan ahead accordingly by studying well in advance when tests are clustered together.

15 Makeup tests are often available.
High School College Makeup tests are often available. Makeup tests are not usually given. If they are, the student needs to request them. Makeup test policies vary by professor in college. Some will not allow any makeups, others will allow them only in certain cases (e.g., illness with doctor’s note, death in the family, etc.), and others may have a more relaxed makeup policy. However one consistency is that if you miss a test, you must request the makeup test. Professors will not automatically assume that you want to take one.

16 High School College A low grade on the first test may not have a significant impact on the student’s final grade. A low grade on the first test may substantially impact a student’s final grade. Performing well on the first test may be very important to succeeding in the class. Because there are so few grades in college, the first test is often a crucial litmus test of how well a student will perform in the class. Earning a low grade on the first test can make it very difficult to raise your final grade in the class, so it is important to take the first test very seriously and overprepare for it.

17 High School College Students are often expected to reproduce what they were taught in the same way it was presented to them. When taking a test, students must usually solve the same kinds of problems they were shown how to solve. Students are often expected to apply what they have learned to new situations or to solve new kinds of problems when taking a test. This is a fundamental difference between the expectations of high school and college that many first-year students have difficulty adjusting to. In high school, students are often expected to regurgitate what they have been told. For example, an English teacher may work with a class on interpreting a poem, and then the students will be expected to explain that same interpretation on a test. Or, a math teacher might show students how to solve a certain kind of equation and then present the same kind of equation with different numerical values on the test. In college, students are expected to apply what they have learned instead of just repeating what they’ve been told. So an English professor might ask a student to interpret a poem they have never read before on a test, or a math teacher might give a problem to be solved that requires the student to integrate two formulas they have learned or to apply the principles of the formula in a different way to get the correct answer. Some first-year students walk out of tests saying “I don’t know why that was on the test. We didn’t learn that in class.” These students don’t realize that although they didn’t learn that exact thing, they learned the tools to be able to solve that thing. They weren’t just being tested on whether they learned the idea; they were being tested on whether they understood the idea well enough to be able to apply it in a new situation.

18 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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